Baltimore Sun Examines Group That Conducts HIV/AIDS Outreach in City’s Dance Clubs
The Baltimore Sun on Thursday examined a group of outreach workers that since May has been promoting HIV/AIDS prevention and testing in the city's densest concentration of nude dance clubs. The group on Thursday nights offers no-cost condoms and tests for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis C. Workers also provide referrals for drug treatment programs and help clients take steps to qualify for Medicaid.
The initiative is a joint effort of the Baltimore City Health Department and the group Sisters Together and Reaching. According to the Sun, the initiative "addresses what's long been an open secret" -- among nude dancers, "bouncers and public health authorities, there is wide acknowledgment that drug addiction and sexual activity are common among women who perform" in the area. Jacky Ruben, a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, accompanies the outreach workers and conducts private interviews with dancers to develop a profile of their lifestyles. "There's a lot of drug use, lots of oral, vaginal sex going on in the clubs," Ruben said, adding that most report condom use. Many say that they use clean needles but pass them on to others, according to Ruben. To date, the health department has distributed 1,300 clean needles in the area, an average of about 130 nightly, Deputy Health Commissioner Richard Matens said (Bor, Baltimore Sun, 7/31).